SEATTLE -- Star outfielder George Springer left Saturday’s game against the Mariners with a left ankle sprain after slamming into the outfield wall and landing awkwardly on the warning track at T-Mobile Park.
The 9-3 loss that instantly unraveled after Springer’s injury was already one of the toughest of the season for the Blue Jays, but losing Springer for any extended period -- again -- would be a much bigger blow to Toronto’s postseason hopes.
Springer immediately went for X-rays, which came back negative. Right after the game ended, Springer went into Charlie Montoyo’s office at T-Mobile Park and told his manager that he’d be all right. That left Montoyo encouraged, but the organization will continue to monitor this over the coming days and will proceed with caution.
Springer was tracking a fly ball off the bat of Ty France when he extended his glove up to make the play, but he hit the wall hard and rolled the ankle when he came down. After getting back up and trying to walk to the outfield grass, Springer went back to the ground and was in clear pain. Montoyo and the Blue Jays’ training staff ran out to assist Springer, who eventually left the field very slowly.
“That was a scary moment for our whole team. It’s George Springer,” Montoyo said. “Since he’s got back, we’ve been playing great. Of course we don’t want to miss him, but the good news is that he’s going to be all right.”
Three batters later, Luis Torrens launched a three-run skyscraper over the left-field fence, and Jarred Kelenic made it back-to-back jacks just moments later. Within a matter of minutes, the Blue Jays had lost Springer and the game, allowing the Mariners to pull even with them in the AL Wild Card race. The bullpen meltdown in the later innings only allowed the Mariners to pile on in front of a raucous crowd, but the damage was already done.
Until the seventh, it looked like starter Hyun Jin Ryu was going to hold the door open long enough for the Blue Jays’ lineup to break through. Coming off of Friday’s ugly loss in the series opener, which ended on a bases-loaded walk, this game looked like the perfect bounceback opportunity and seemed to be headed in that direction. The Blue Jays did themselves no favors, though, going just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
This couldn’t come at a worse time for the Blue Jays, who have turned the corner since their return to Toronto on July 30 and had been gaining steam. Springer has been at the forefront of that, literally and figuratively, moving back into the leadoff spot and claiming back-to-back AL Player of the Week honors.
It’s obvious that Springer won’t be in the lineup for Sunday’s finale against the Mariners as the Blue Jays try to avoid the sweep, and Monday’s off-day will buy the Blue Jays some time as they continue to evaluate the ankle.
“I just really hope that it’s not a big injury,” said Ryu, who allowed four runs over 6 1/3 innings but looked very sharp until the end. “We’ve got to take the next couple of days to see how he is. Any time in a game when a teammate gets injured like that, it’s just something you don’t want to see. Hopefully he is better soon.”
Springer’s 2021 debut was delayed by two quad injuries after he signed his six-year deal for a club record $150 million this past offseason, making Saturday just his 49th game in a Blue Jays uniform. He originally returned for a handful of games at DH in late April and early May before reaggravating that right quad, and eventually returned at 100 percent on June 22.
Depending on the extent of Springer’s injury, the Blue Jays’ outfield depth will be tested, but it’s risen to that test before. Teoscar Hernández is a mainstay in right while Randal Grichuk would take over in center alongside Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in left. Corey Dickerson is now a valuable piece of this puzzle as well after coming over from Miami in a trade earlier this season, and young Josh Palacios recently returned from a hand injury at Triple-A, representing the next wave of depth.
That will sort itself out, depending on how long Springer needs to get the ankle back to 100 percent, but Saturday night’s losses put the focus back on the big picture. The Wild Card race isn’t getting any clearer as we reach the midway point of August, and if the Blue Jays are without one of baseball’s best all-around players for more than just a few days, that hill gets just a bit steeper.